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Graduates Gather For Ceremonies
The 2010 graduation season kicks off today, Wednesday, June 2 with the ceremony for Vista and Sierra View schools. El Portal follows on Thursday, with Escalon High School's graduation on Friday.

The Vista High School and Sierra View High School students will gather in the performing Arts Center on the campus of Escalon High at 6:30 p.m. to enjoy their graduation ceremony.

On Thursday, June 3 at Engel Field on the EHS campus, eighth grade students of El Portal will meet for their graduation at 7 p.m.

Student speakers will include Maggie Casteel, Anastassya Zack and Ariana Lopez. All eighth graders write a speech as part of an assignment for English class; some choose to then go through the selection process for delivering that speech at graduation and this year's top three will deliver their addresses during the June 3 ceremony.

On Friday, June 4, the Class of 2010 from Escalon High School will march into the football stadium as a group for one final time, with their ceremony also slated for 7 p.m.

Senior Class President Seth Chunn will address the crowd at the Friday night graduation, and co-Valedictorians Joel Alcaraz and Pearl Rivers will offer their speeches as well.

Alcaraz went through his entire school career, kindergarten through 12th grade, in Escalon and said he was grateful for the support of the community over the years. He also isn't locking himself in to any one career just yet.

"I'm not set in stone, I will go to college, see what I like, then focus on something that I'm passionate about," he said.

The son of Francisco and Rosa Alcaraz, the co-valedictorian has been involved in a variety of activities at Escalon High and said he has discovered that, even though it might be a cliché, you really do get back more than you give.

"I felt really blessed getting so much back," Alcaraz said, noting that he received a number of scholarships and awards at the recent Senior Awards Night. "Hard work does pay off."

Among other activities, he was involved in Key Club, Academic Decathlon, student government, worked at the Van Allen Harvest Festival, and was an Arts Alive festival volunteer for three years. He also made the Principal's Honor Roll all four years of high school.

For Rivers, who moved here at the start of her sixth grade year at El Portal, said she relished the opportunity to get involved in so many activities, from sports to service clubs.

"I have friends from other towns and they tell me at bigger schools you can fall into the background," Rivers said. "Just the fact that you can be involved in so much here is great. To be able to do so much, you gain a wide variety of experience."

Her high school experience has included a host of AP classes, participating in both cross country and track, being involved in band, mock trial, Key Club, French Club, Academic Decathlon and more, including receiving a DAR Good Citizen award as a senior.

The daughter of Dan Rivers and Lucy Wright Rivers, the senior has had an older brother, Quentin, graduate already but has a younger sister, Leone, still to enter Escalon High.

"I'd tell her to do what she enjoys and try hard," Rivers said of some parting words of advice to her younger sister.

Friday will also feature the annual Sober Grad party for seniors, set up in the EHS gym for an all-night celebration. Tickets are currently available at the school and will be for sale at the door the night of the event. The farewell party for the Class of 2010 features food, music, casino-style games, inflatables, beverages, lots of prizes and more, with every student leaving the party with some type of prize.

Volunteers are still needed to help decorate for the party and those interested in helping out, either by decorating or working at the actual event can contact Debbie Veenstra at 606-4244.